David Attenborough's book JOURNEYS TO THE PAST is aptly named. Reading it is an enthralling trek back in time. He headed expeditions to New Guinea, Madagascar, etc. when sections of these huge islands were still largely primitive (between 1954 and 1964).
He is not only a daring naturalist and adventurer, but a first-rate writer. He transforms what could be dry documentary coverage (of his quests for surviving ancient rituals and exotic fauna) into vivid and often gripping narrative. For example, his chapter on the land divers of Pentecost, who perform in a kind of Olympian sky-jumping ceremony, is the most fascinating account of a bizaare tribal ritual that I have ever read. It makes our modern "extreme" sports seem utterly tame by comparison. Attenborough's chapter "Cargo Cult" is a shocking and enlightening glimpse of the affects of the European culture invasion in Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Figi and New Caledonia. This book has my highest recommendation.